Gardaí warn students of rental scams ahead of academic year

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Thousands are scrambling to find accommodation with the results coming out this week, and in that rush young people are being urged to protect themselves from rental scams.

The Garda Western Region has issued a warning for the many people looking for a place to live in Galway ahead of this September to be on the look out for rental scams which can take different forms.

Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant Michael Walsh, pictured below with Aaron Burke, President of the GMIT Students Union, gave some advice on steps people can take to protect themselves.

Garda Crime Prevention rental scams
Aaron Burke (left), GMIT Students Union President with Sgt Michael Walsh, Garda Crime Prevention Officer credit: Garda Western Region

First off, do your homework he said. Familiarise yourself with the average rent prices in your search area and if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

People can also use online maps to double check that the property being advertised actually exists at the address in question.

“Check short term rental sites to ensure the property is not being used by a fraudster for “viewings” who will take your deposit”.

“Keep copies of all correspondence between yourself and the advertiser, including bank details and the advertisement itself.”

Where possible, he suggested that people should make use of legitimate, well known rental agencies.

“Don’t hand over any money until you have seen the property and are happy with its condition. Once satisfied use a cheque or bank draft to pay the deposit.”

“Don’t make any payments until you have been given the keys and signed the rental contract. Always check that the keys fit the lock.”

“Remember, don’t transfer any money unless you have carried out all the relevant checks and you are absolutely sure that the list is genuine.”

Lastly he said that people who fall victim to rental scams shouldn’t be embarrassed. The important thing to do is to report it to Gardaí and contact your bank as soon as possible.